Since entering the Baltimore Metro League two years ago, Carroll baseball squads have been solidly competitive in that loop, which fieldssome of the premier youth teams in the Baltimore area.
But a local group of youth baseball officials wants to improve that showing andmake Carroll's teams synonymous with the best the Baltimore area canoffer.
In September, it took the first step toward that goal by forming the Carroll County Amateur Baseball Club.
The club's aim essentially is to provide the best coaching and the best competition to the county's best young baseball players.
It intends to form three or four teams in the 13-16 age group and enter them in the Metro League next year, with hopes of expanding to the 17-18 and unlimited age categories in 1993.
Starting with indoor workouts in January, the teamswill continue through an ambitious spring and summer schedule that could include as many as 60 regular-season and tournament games.
Club President Tom Collins, a past head of the North Carroll/Manchesteryouth baseball organization, said the new Carroll Amateur Club wantsyoungsters who have both talent and the right temperament.
"We want the serious kids. We're gearing toward kids who want to play pro ball or college ball," he said.
Collins said many local players fitthis profile, adding that most of those who appeared in the club's preliminary workouts in October were good enough to make the select teams that will be formed this spring.
There is even a major-league connection. Collins has arranged for the Texas Rangers to provide information on coaching, rating players and conditioning. Accordingly, the club's teams will use the Ranger nickname and model their uniformsafter those of that American League team.
The club, whose officials are primarily from the Manchester and Sykesville programs at present, came about after discussions among local rec leaders about the need to beef up competition for gifted Carroll players.
"We need to keep (the better) players in Carroll County," said George Hancock, coach of Sykesville's 13-14 team, which placed second in the Metro League last summer.
He said half of his starters and a like number from Manchester's 13-14 Metro League squad would have played out of the county had Sykesville and Manchester not fielded teams.
He added that these players needed a stronger challenge than local rec programscan provide.
Club spokesmen say the group has every intention of providing that challenge.
Each team will have a manager plus two to three coaches who will instruct heavily in the fundamentals.
Additionally, roving coaches will work with the teams in such specialized skills as hitting and pitching.
Club secretary Ed Sheehan says his group intends to recruit local high school and college coaches to assist.
To enhance the level of instruction, the club also will send players to nearby camps and clinics.
Organizers will open tryouts to all Carroll players but emphasize that they do not want to weaken existing rec programs and will not recruit players directly from them.
"Our members have been in these organizations for years. The last thing they would do is alienate anyone," Hancock noted.
His group is requesting financial assistance from businesses and other contributors to help defray the estimated $5,000 it will take to put each team on the field.
Individual player fees will be held to $200.
North Carroll High varsity baseball coach Craig Walker, not surprisingly, favors the club idea.
"This will be a great opportunity for the kids. It will only help them. It helps to play kids in other areas and play better competition," Walker said.
He added, "The better they are when they get to us (in high school), the better we will be."